The Socialist Republic of Vietnam was born in 1975, following the Vietnam War, when North and South Vietnam were united. Over the last few years the country has opened up its economy and developed rapidly. Nevertheless, one fifth of the country’s population continue to live below the poverty line. A large proportion of those who live below the poverty line belong to ethnic minority groups living in the mountainous north-west of the country. The lack of clean water, sanitary facilities and knowledge of the links between hygiene, nutrition and health are among the chief reasons behind illnesses in the area. Health services in the north-west are insufficient. Ethnic minority children tend to finish their education early, with the result that education levels among ethnic minority groups are low.
According to statistics Vietnam is one of the world’s major human trafficking source countries. Vietnamese women and girls are trafficked to Malaysia, Thailand, China, Cambodia and also further afield to Europe and the United States. The victims are frequently forced into prostitution, domestic work and forced marriages. The majority of the victims are aged between 15 and 23 years old. The violence, rapes and forced confinement they suffer affect both the physical and mental health of the victims as well as their possibilities for the future.
FELM’s partner organisations in Vietnam are AAT Vietnam, VietHealth and Church World Service.
AAT works in restaurants and bars and in the areas in which sex workers live. The organisation accommodates human trafficking victims in its shelter. The women and girls are provided with health checks, therapy, counselling, literacy classes and vocational training. The centre also helps with the reintegration process through facilitating visits and providing counselling. AAT is also active in HIV and AIDS prevention work through raising awareness of the virus. FELM supports capacity building work among social workers and project staff involved in working with human trafficking victims and is active in advocacy work on trafficking-related themes.
Church World Service (CWS) works chiefly among ethnic minority groups in remote areas and supports village development, children’s education and healthcare. CWS works with local authorities to improve living conditions through building toilets, increasing access to clean drinking water and raising awareness concerning hygiene issues. CWS also supports the pre-school education of children belonging to ethnic minority groups. Teachers are taught child-friendly teaching methods in participatory training sessions. In addition, teaching materials are being produced for pre-school and primary school teachers in ethnic minority languages. Pupils, parents, teachers and other villagers participate in discussions concerning children’s rights to education, sufficient nutrition and health.
VietHealth works with disabled children. Healthcare workers, especially at the village and district levels, are trained in dealing with the disabled and in how to reduce the risk of children being born with disabilities. The organisation campaigns on behalf of the health of mothers and for better monitoring of the health of pregnant women, as well as on behalf of disabled rights.